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Putin cancels Paris visit: Kremlin

Moscow (AFP): President Vladimir Putin has cancelled a planned visit to Paris, the Kremlin said Tuesday, after French President Francois Hollande accused Syrian troops of committing a “war crime” in Aleppo with Russia’s support.

“The president has decided to cancel this visit,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, referring to a long-planned trip to Paris set for October 19.

“From the very start of his exchanges with his French colleague, President Putin noted that he is ready to visit Paris when it is comfortable for President Hollande. So we’ll wait for when that comfortable time comes.”

The announcement comes a day after Hollande said he had not yet decided whether to host Putin, saying that President Bashar al-Assad’s troops had committed a “war crime” in the conflict-torn city of Aleppo with the support of key ally Russia.

“I asked myself the question… Is it useful? Is it necessary? Can it be a way of exerting pressure? Can we get him to stop what he is doing with the Syrian regime?” Hollande told the TMC channel.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault was in Moscow last week for talks with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov before heading to Washington in a bid to garner support for a UN French draft resolution for a ceasefire in Aleppo.

But Russia on Saturday vetoed the resolution, marking the fifth time it has used its veto to block UN action to end the five-year war in Syria.